“Customer experience has never been more important than right now because when the pandemic is finally behind us, customers will remember which companies treated them well during this difficult time.” — Dan Gingiss, Host, Experience This! Podcast
There’s no question that customer experience has emerged firmly into the forefront of business concerns in the current environment. In one major survey, a full 45.9% of business professionals identified customer experience as their top priority in the next five years, compared to 33.6% who were focused on product and 20.5% who were focused on pricing. It’s not for nothing that CX has such a commanding place in business awareness, as it’s a decisive factor in reducing churn and increasing revenues.
In order to get a handle on the role of CX in the marketplace, it may be useful to get a handle on a few things. First, we’ll want an understanding of what exactly customer experience is and how it’s different from the concept of customer service that it has largely replaced. Second, we’re going to want to identify what kinds of tools can give a company a fighting chance for delivering revolutionary CX in the years to come.
Customer Experience: The Key to Success in the New Marketplace
Customer service (the ancestor of the discipline we now call customer experience) is about a company supporting their products and services after the point of sale, often through a specialized contact point designed to ensure that a customer’s interactions with the company and use of their product goes smoothly. Long before the term “customer experience” made its emergence into business and management jargon, customer service had its own pride of place as a crucial factor in running a successful business.
What makes customer experience a different proposition is that it’s about having a customer-centric attitude in all parts of a business and throughout the customer journey. Leading CX influencer Dan Gingiss, a broadcaster with two decades of experience in the field with several Fortune 300 companies, puts it this way:
“Customer centricity to me means making every business decision with the customer in mind. It has to be one of those filters that you look through before you make a business decision. Too often we make business decisions that look good on the financial statement but don’t take the customer into consideration. […] At the end of the day, a good decision for the customer is a good decision for the business. It’s when you’re only looking at one or the other that you can often get into trouble. […] The best companies have a culture where customer-centricity is pervasive. It’s in every part of the business. And everybody feels like whether they are customer-facing or not, they feel like they have an impact on CX.”
Rather than just providing a single touchpoint with a company’s brand, customer experience addresses sentiment and long-term engagement and strives to deliver delight at every point of interaction. Investing in CX improves upselling and cross-selling, customer satisfaction, and customer retention, and the importance of this generally customer-centric approach is statistically clear:
- 86% of customers are happy to pay extra for a great customer experience.
- 49% of buyers have made impulse purchases in response to a delightful CX moment.
- 72% of customers will share a positive experience with six or more people.
- 88% of companies now prioritize customer experience in their contact centers.
Failure to deliver quality CX tends to promote churn, often resulting in business that gets lost in ways a company never even sees:
- 13% of unhappy customers will share their experience with 15 or more people.
- Less than 4% of unhappy customers actually complain (the rest simply leave).
- 1 in 3 customers will abandon a previously beloved brand after a single poor experience.
- 92% will walk away from a company after two or three sub-standard interactions.
During the difficult circumstances of the COVD-19 pandemic, companies have been challenged to focus on CX as never before and have found creative ways to do so. From the Rackspace employee who ordered pizza for a customer in the midst of a marathon troubleshooting session to the executive chef at a Ritz Carlton hotel who had his mother fly specialized eggs and milk in from Bali for a customer with food allergies, these extraordinary CX efforts are marked by strong commitments to maintaining an emotional connection between the customer and the brand and company cultures that give their employees the flexibility to go above and beyond.
The superb customer experience effort requires the right company culture, and it can also be supported by the right policy commitments, tools, and technologies. It’s the companies that take on board the best practices and best supporting CX software that will have the easiest time standing out from the crowd.
Delivering Superb Customer Experiences Beyond 2020
There are three ingredients in realizing a high quality customer experience strategy beyond the year 2020.
1. Involve Your Whole Team
Customer experience, unlike customer service, isn’t the province of a single team or job role. Excelling in CX means baking the customer-centric approach into everything a company does.
One strong illustrative example in 2020 has been JetBlue — the airline that innovated fun and customer-first tradition like the “People Officer” which surprises passengers with gifts and rewards and has continued to invest in CX ever since. During the onset of coronavirus, its offer of free flights for medical personnel and supplies represented an investment in positive CX at a time when the fundamentals of the business were in jeopardy. The airline made customer experience a priority at every level and has continued to lead the way in pandemic response with offers of free testing, helping it survive the upheavals of 2020.
Exceptional CX is the primary ingredient of companies that have mastered it. The customer’s well-being and engagement are addressed across marketing and sales, service, and product design. It’s never an afterthought.
2. Cultivate Customers for the Long Term
Strong customer experience management does more than just reduce churn; it also correlates directly with repeat business and recurring revenue. Recent studies show that positive customer experiences will motivate 93% of buyers to come back for more. Even small increases in retention can lead to a 25% boost to the bottom line, and the Temkin Group has identified that investment in CX can double a company’s revenue within 36 months. The more memorable the experiences a company provides are, the easier it is to build those crucial customer relationships and sustain them for the long haul.
3. Be Proactive
Smart and agile customer experience is about more than merely responding to issues as they arise; it’s about anticipating and fulfilling the needs of your customers before even they realize they have them. Truly successful CX leader—the ones who stand out from the pack—structure their processes to empower employees across their operation to deliver memorable and delightful experiences at any stage of a customer’s journey.
Implementing a truly proactive customer experience strategy is easiest when you can leverage the right tools. SugarCRM was an early innovator in this kind of endeavor with the innovation of a time-aware CRM platform that made it easy for staff across a company to get a full picture of the historical context of any customer interaction they were a part of. Now, with the addition of high-definition customer experience (HD-CX) technology, the time-aware platform has been completed with highly accurate forecasting that can synthesize future recommendations from data that goes beyond just the information set your own company has thought to gather. HD-CX makes truly proactive, genuinely prescient customer experience delivery into a practical reality.
With the right commitments, company culture, and best practices in place, your business will be ideally placed to leverage the best tools and technologies in the business to achieve true excellence in CX. Visit SugarCRM online to discover how high-definition customer experience can become a part of your success story.